She was young, thirty at most, and very attractive. She visited the coffee shop where I buss tables in the mornings. Three mornings I saw her, as she sat quietly by the window watching the street, her hand moving from her throat to her coffee, to her hair and back. Golden blond hair she had, highlighted with streaks of red, long and parted in the middle, flowing behind her like wings of an angel.
Each time she was soon joined by her lover. I could tell by the way she half rose and leaned toward him when he sat down opposite her, pulling her shoulders forward as if creating a private space for them to exchange intimacies. Each time her lover arrived after her, ordered and drank his coffee, left before her and spoke little. Each time she touched him on the arm as he turned to leave and gave him a brief kiss on the mouth.
What came next froze me with wonder. The first time, as her lover turned toward the door, she put her fingers to her lips and blew him a silent kiss. Unaware of this, he went out the door toward his next appointment. I watched a small white cloud issue from her mouth and move toward him. When it reached his back, it transformed into a butterfly, which attached itself to his shirt and silently climbed to his shoulder. I watched fascinated as he walked away, unaware of the beautiful blessing she had bestowed on him.
I recognized the butterfly. Years ago my uncle had introduced me to butterfly collecting. This butterfly was in my collection: dark blue with white near the tips of its large front wings, and rows of dark red spots near the ends of blue stripes on its rear wings. Limentis Arthemis, the "Red Spotted Admiral", one of my favorites for its size and proportions and deep colors. To me, it suggested bold passion and deep love.
A week later she appeared again. As before, she drank coffee and watched the street, quietly grooming herself. Again, her lover appeared, ordered and drank his coffee, and prepared to leave. Again, she touched his arm, rose and kissed him on the lips. Again, as he left, she blew him a kiss. A small white cloud again emerged from her lips and drifted toward his retreating back. Again a butterfly appeared. This time it was Polygonia Interrogationis, a much rarer species with bright orange front wings with purple spots, and violet rear wings ending in a lavender fringe. This butterfly, large and intense in its coloring, was popularly known as the "Question Mark".
I couldn't see her face, but she seemed troubled and reluctant to leave. I offered to refill her coffee, not normally my job. Her face, when she turned to me, was serious, her blue eyes looking directly into mine for a second. I hesitated. I wanted to ask her about what I had seen. She queried me with her eyes again and I found myself lost in the beauty of her face. The moment gone, I looked away and refilled her cup.
The next morning she appeared again. This time she glanced at me as she entered and settled with her coffee, facing the street. All signs of eagerness or nervousness were gone. She merely stared into her coffee and held herself still until her lover arrived.
As before, he ordered and drank his coffee and seemed even more in a hurry to leave than before. She stood up when he did and stepped toward him. They looked each other in the eyes briefly without speaking and then kissed. He turned toward the door. As before, she put her fingertips to her lips and blew a kiss to his back. I watched carefully as a cloud, darker than the first two, drifted to the back of his shirt and coalesced into a large insect. I stared hard at it as he moved through the door and it started climbing toward his neck. Finally I recognized it. It was not a butterfly, but an insect I had seen only in pictures: a two-inch long Asian Giant Hornet, better known in Japan as the "Yak Killer".
I went to her and offered to refill her coffee. "No. Thank you." is all she said. She rose to leave. As she went out the door, she turned and gave me a quick knowing look and half smile. I never saw her again.